WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Rusev by Disqualification (Non-title)
I was surprised when Styles said nothing about Shinsuke Nakamura's actions at WrestleMania 34 on last week's show, but at least he addressed him here. Although I expected a new SmackDown Live star to interrupt Styles, Rusev might have been even better, because it put him in a prominent spot for a change. Granted, he was on the verge of tapping out to Styles in under 30 seconds, but at least he wasn't an afterthought for a change. This segment set up the main event tag team match for later on in the night.
United States Champion Jeff Hardy def. Shelton Benjamin (Non-title)
I couldn't believe that so many people thought Seth Rollins was headed to SmackDown with the Intercontinental Championship in the Superstar Shake-up. I figured it was obvious Hardy would be bound for the blue brand considering it was no coincidence he won the United States title on Monday's Raw. SmackDown was his home in 2008-2009, so I like him being back on the brand nearly a decade later as a singles star. This was a pretty good match between him and Benjamin, who will likely be a stepping stone for the younger talent now that Chad Gable has been moved to Raw.
SmackDown Tag Team Champion Harper def. Jey Uso
The Bludgeon Brothers have been heavily protected for months and their latest singles outing against The Usos was no exception. Harper made short work of Jey by beating him within a minute. Afterward, The Bludgeon Brothers attempted to annihilate The Usos with their hammers before Naomi came to their aid. Why has she waited all this time to protect them? At any rate, this seemingly gives her something to do, so I don't mind her involvement in this story for the time being.
Samoa Joe def. Sin Cara
Wow! I did not seeing Joe moving to SmackDown at all, but I love the decision to put him on Tuesday nights. He had a hell of a run on Raw, but it is much likelier that he becomes a world champion on SmackDown. Plus, look at all the fresh faces he can mix it up with: Styles, Daniel Bryan Bryan, Randy Orton... the list goes on and on. Needless to say, this squash was exactly what it should have been: a showcase for Joe. I guess it's obvious Roman Reigns will beat him at Backlash at this point, but you never know.
SmackDown Women's Champion Carmella Held a 'Mellabration
Say what you will about her in-ring abilities (they pale in comparison to those of everyone else in SmackDown's women's division), but Carmella has come into her own as a heel and I thought she shined here. Her over-the-top promo was excellent, though everything that followed from Charlotte Flair and The IIconics was decent at best. Peyton Royce mocking Charlotte's complaining was hilarious, if nothing else.
Charlotte Flair def. Billie Kay
Kay is easily the weaker of the two between herself and Royce, so this wasn't the most impressive in-ring debut for The IIconics on SmackDown. The match was fine for what it was, but it would have foolish for Charlotte to lose one week removed from her loss of the SmackDown Women's title, but Kay shouldn't have lost, either. On the bright side, the real focus here was on Asuka's arrival afterward. I like the addition of her to the blue brand because she had already beaten basically everyone on Raw and hopefully we can see her and Charlotte mix it up again at some point.
WWE Champion AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev and Aiden English Went to a No Contest
As previously mentioned, it was cool to see Rusev and English in the main event spotlight for a change, even if it was to take a beating from the two top babyfaces Styles and Bryan. It was an entertaining affair and I appreciated that Rusev and English didn't suffer another unnecessary loss. Instead, Styles was attacked by Nakamura and Bryan was laid out by Big Cass. That's an, uh, interesting first feud for Bryan coming off his return to the ring, but perhaps it will be revealed that Cass is aligned with The Miz next week?
As a show, this was an average effort and fairly straightforward, furthering feuds and setting up various matches for the Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash. However, what made this episode extra exciting was all the moves made in the Superstar Shake-up. Raw made out nicely, but SmackDown is the real winner this year. They have an absolutely stacked roster, especially when you include Andrade "Cien" Almas and SAnitY from NXT. Hopefully once things go back to normal after the upcoming events later this month and in early May, SmackDown will settle into a fun rhythm again.
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